Friday, April 04, 2008

Pre-race Jitters

I know I said in my last post that I would call again after the race, but this is different. It is Friday, almost exactly 5am in the morning, and I have been awake since 1:20, and I just cannot get back to sleep. I've had a drink, I've had some cereal, I've read for over an hour, I've been back to bed, I've had some more drink, some more food, some more bedtime, and nothing has worked. I keep thinking about the race, and I guess I must be nervous.

This is different to last year. Back then I slept soundly until the night before the race, when I didn't sleep at all and just lay awake, actually scared of the next day. This time, in contrast, I'm confident I'll be able to do well, but my sleep this week has been patchy, alternating between 9-hour sleeps and hours of lying awake in bed.

The other problem I've got are nocturnal cramps. That's something I've been dealing with since my teenage years, but over the last few years it was reduced to 2 or 3 episodes per year. However, I've had no less than 3 nocturnal bouts of cramp this week alone, twice in my left calf and once in my right, and tonight my right calf felt like it was going to cramp, but didn't since I've been walking around a lot because of my restlessness. I really don't know what's causing it. According to wikipedia dehydration is a common cause, but I'm definitely not dehydrated. I'm ruling out a lack of magnesium, potassium, calcium, and sodium as well, because my diet should provide plenty of each. Reduced blood flow through the muscles attendant in prolonged sitting or lying down? Well, sure, I've got a desk job, but why would that be any different this week? Could it be the reduced mileage? I've run 12 miles this week, which is less than my daily average during full training, but still. I would not expect the short-term absence of training to cause cramps. As a runner who is prone to cramps anyway (I've experienced cramping in 3 of my 6 marathons, as well as my only ultra to date), this is rather worrying.

And guess what? The weather forecast is less than appealing. We had a gorgeous day yesterday, 16C/60F at lunchtime, just like during last year's race. And guess when this is going to end? Yup, Sunday. Apparently the rain will set in when I'm about 10 miles from the end. And guess some more, of the next 5 days which one is supposed to be the most windy? Yes, Sunday again. 17 mph / 28 km/h isn't exactly unprecedented, but I'd rather do without.

According to the organisers, the ultra will feature a very strong field this year, including, amongst others, Jez Bragg, the best ultra runner in the UK. I think I can forget about a top 10 finish, even if I manage to reach my time goal.

It's almost 5:30. Maybe I'll try and sleep again. Thanks for indulging me.


  1. You've also got a lot of positive stuff to focus on... Keep in mind the awesome base training you've laid down over the past several months, even with the pneumonia. You bounced back from that because you're in good athletic shape. You will no doubt do well. As for the weather, the good news is that everyone else will have to go through it also.

    Have you experimented with electrolyte pills before for the cramping?

    Look forward to the race report. Rock the race with all you have.

  2. You've come back very, very well from the 'interruption' in January. Pace yourself early, and get after those hills in the final third! Good luck!

  3. I thought salt was good for the crampy stuff but don't qoute me on it, I never get those sort.
    You have tonight to get a good night's sleep don't fret too much. And the weather is never great in Connemara, just wait 5 minutes and it'll change. It's been windy for me a couple of years and my times are always the same! Best of luck! Give it socks!! Say hi to everyone you pass and they'll encourage you when they see you're an Ultra!

  4. Donald,
    I still guess electrolytes - even though your diet provides plenty. I think running whomps on our reserves and that a runner with mileages like yours needs extra. I don't know what you are drinking right now, pre-race, but I'd go with a sports drink. Also, do consider s-caps or e-caps. Eric used to cramp all the time till he started using those. GOOD LUCK! ENJOY!

  5. Trust in your training and all the miles that you've logged over the last couple years, you'll be great!

    Cramping, huh? I took some salt/electrolyte packets two days prior to Ottawa last year and they worked wonders.

    As for the nerves, don't worry, but try and store the energy. When you get excited imagine putting the energy in a bottle, and bring it out race morning!

    Best of luck for the race, we're all excited for you!

  6. thomas, anyone can race when it's sunny, cool and calm. you're so much more hardcore than that. you're going to get out there in the elements and REALLY show us what you're made of...and that stuff is some mighty rare stuff. godspeed, thomas!

  7. First off, let me apologize for Michelle for calling you Donald. You two live far enough apart that you would think she would be able to know who is who.

    Have a great race, Thomas! I look forward to reading the report.

  8. Get it right and I'm sure you'll have a good one Thomas. Um, perhaps don't sit on Jez Bragg in the early miles.

    Looking forward to the report - try and keep it less than 39.3 miles long ;)

  9. Just seen the results on the connemara web site. 5hr 50mins 11secs - well done. Look forward to reading your report to how you found it. Sounds as though the weather was tough.

    Plus a great win for Jez!